Oregon State at Arizona notebook

Two defenses playing well...Arizona connections...UA/OSU series history...good signs on offense...special teams stuff...and more inside the weekly BF.com game notebook.

Head coach: Mike Stoops (Third season)
(Career: 9-20 | At UA: 9-20)
Current ranking: NR
Current record: 3-4, 1-3 in the Pac-10
Streak: One game winning streak
Head coach: Mike Riley (Sixth season)
(Career: 31-33 | At OSU: 31-33)
Current ranking: NR
Current record: 3-3, 1-2 in the Pac-10
Streak: One game winning streak


Last time Oregon State and Arizona met...
Oct. 29, 2005 in Corvallis - Arizona 29, Oregon State 27
Arizona and Oregon State met on a showery day at Corvallis with the Wildcats edging the Beavers, 29-27, to snap a five game losing streak coming in and a six-game losing streak to OSU. Both sides posted big numbers and featured big plays, but OSU was done in by interceptions and penalties in falling just short.

Arizona freshman QB Willie Tuitama made his first career start and passed for 335 yards and two TDs. On the receiving end, WRs Michael Thomas (162) and Anthony Johnson (117) both topped the 100-yard mark receiving and had a TD reception. For the Beavers, TB Yvenson Bernard rushed for 192 yards and two TDs and QB Matt Moore threw for 436 yards (4th highest in OSU history), but suffered six interceptions. Arizona SS Michael Johnson had three of the interceptions, returning one 40 yards for a TD. ... more from BF.com | Post-game notebook


Last time Oregon State and Arizona met in Tucson...
Oct. 30, 2004 - Oregon State 28, Arizona 14
QB Derek Anderson became Oregon State's career passing and total offense leader as the Beavers won for the third straight week while dealing Arizona their seventh straight loss.  Anderson completed 17 of 31 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

Sabby Piscitelli and Mitch Meeuwsen each had an interception.  ... more from BF.com | Post-game notebook


Last time Arizona played...
Oct. 14, 2006 in Palo Alto - Arizona 20, Stanford 7
For the better part of eight years Wildcat football has been plagued by a tendency to fold when adversity hits. When a bad play, a bad call or just plain bad luck occurs, the Wildcats seemed to have reacted in the worst possible way. On Saturday the Wildcats faced plenty of adversity and came away with a 20-7 win over Stanford.

Sure Stanford is winless. Sure the Cardinal are terrible against the run, but this is a struggling Arizona team. This is a team that had to start their former walk-on quarterback, only to see him go down to a knee injury in the second quarter ... more from WildcatInsider.com


Last time Oregon State played...
Oct. 14, 2006 - Oregon State 27, Oregon State 17
For the third consecutive year the Oregon State Beavers headed north to face the Washington Huskies. And for the third consecutive year the Beavers came away from Seattle with a victory.

Another strong performance by the OSU defense, which notched six sacks and 13 tackles for loss, kept the Washington offense in check most of the day. LB Derrick Doggett dominated the game accounting for team-high 10 tackles, eight solo, including two tackles for loss and one quarterback sack and a forced fumble.

QB Matt Moore had his best day of the year completing 14 of 19 for 308 yards with one touchdown and one interception. WR Sammie Stroughter finished with a career high 223 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions while the offensive line did a brilliant job pass protecting and providing room for RB Yvenson Bernard to carry for season highs in carries (29) and yards (144) ... more from BF.com | Post-game notebook


Series history (UA leads 20-8-1, 11-2 in Arizona Stadium).
The Beavers and Wildcats have met 29 times since 1966 with the Wildcats leading the series 20-8-1.  Oregon State won six straight  (1999-2004)before Arizona's victory in Reser Stadium a year ago.  OSU's only wins vs. Arizona prior to 1999 were the first meeting in ‘66 (31-12) in Portland and in 1990 over the then No. 21 Wildcats (35-21).  There have been 13 games played at Arizona Stadium with the Wildcats winning the first 11 and the Beavers the last two (33-9 in 2000, 28-14in ‘04).  This is the third time since 2000 that Oregon State travels to Arizona.

Arizona's longest winning streak in the all-time series is 12 straight, accomplished from 1971-1988.  UA's largest margin of victory against OSU was a 44-point win in 1983 (50-6).  OSU's largest margin of victory is 35 points, accomplished twice in back-to-back seasons (38-3, 2001-02).  Last year's two-point Arizona win was just the third decided by five points or less in the all-time series. 

The average margin of victory in the all-time series is 19.5 points.  The average score in the series is Arizona 25, Oregon State 19.


Arizona connections.
Oregon State cornerbacks coach Nigel Burton and Arizona offensive coordinator Mike Canales and offensive line coach Eric Wolford were on the same staff at South Florida in the late 1990s. DT Mitchel Hunt, LB Keaton Kristick, RB Clinton Polk and DT Ben Siegert all played their prep ball in Arizona.

UA center Erick Levitre is starting right tackle Andy Levitre's older brother.


Third time's a charm...so is the first and second.
In one of the odder trends in the Pac-10 Conference, Oregon State has a chance to win its third straight at an opponents locale for the third consecutive time -- in this case Arizona Stadium. The Beavers also have three-game winning streaks at Husky Stadium and Memorial Stadium (California), and can make it three straight at Stanford Stadium next month.


Beaver dam.
Oregon State enters Saturday's game second in the Pac-10 for total quarterback sacks with 23, accounting for 171 yards lost.   OSU is second in the nation for sacks per game at 3.8, trailing only Washington State at 4.0, who has played one more game this year.  The defense also has 53 total tackles-for-loss, accounting for 272 yards, averages to 8.8 per game, tied for the second (Middle Tenn.) in the NCAA -- only Florida International has a higher average at 9.4.  The Beavers' 23 sacks this season is one more than all of last season.

Here are some more facts about the Beaver "D:"

  • Eleven Beavers have a sack or more
  • Eleven of OSU's 23 sacks have been acquired in the last two games.
  • Five different players have three or more sacks
  • The defense has held its last two opponents under 100 yards rushing
  • The unit ranks third in the NCAA in third-down conversions, allowing 26-percent
  • Opponents are just 6 of 32 (19%) when facing 3rd and 10-plus yards.
  • The three starting linebackers, Derrick Doggett, Alan Darlin and Joey LaRacque have combined for 48 tackles over the last two games, including 8.5 for losses and 4 sacks.

And the news just keeps getting better heading into this week's game versus UA.  The Wildcats have allowed the second-most sacks in the Pac-10 with 20, tied for 99th in nation (2.9 per game).


Domination on the Farm.
The Arizona defense limited Stanford to just 32 offensive plays last week (14 in the first half, 18 in the second half), four first downs (2 in the first half, 2 in the second) and 52 total yards.  It was also the fewest yards surrendered by a UA defense to a Pac-10 opponent in school history, surpassing the 79 yards given up to Oregon State in 1981. Aside from the interception return for a TD, Stanford did not possess the ball inside of Arizona's territory all game long. The Cardinal's best effort brought it out to its own 43 yard-line once in the third quarter.

Arizona enters the Oregon State game with a scoring defense that ranks 51st among Division IA teams and fifth in the conference, allowing an average of 20.4 points per game. However, if you subtract the 21 points scored by the opposition on interception returns this season (LSU, UCLA Stanford), that average gets cut to 17.4 which would place the Wildcats 33rd in the country and third in the Pac-10 behind only USC (15.0) and UCLA (15.3).


Wide reciever and punt returner Sammie Stroughter leads the Pac-10 and is ninth in the NCAA for receiving yards per game (92.0) and is the team leader for overall receptions (29). Stroughter's 223 yards receiving last week is the most in the Pac-10 this season and the fourth-highest in OSU history (Pac-10 Player of the Week). He is also third in the nation for punt return yards per attempt at (18.9) and is one of three players in the nation (Jeremy Trimble, Army & De-Sean Jackson, Cal) with two returns for touchdowns.


No returns.
UA PK Nick Folk has taken the words "kickoff return" completely out of the opposition's vocabulary. On 19 kickoffs this season, Folk has seen just three of them returned, and one was a squib kick at the end of the BYU game on Sept. 4. Since ending the 16-13 win over the Cougars, Folk has kicked off 14 times over UA's last five games, and has seen all 12 of the 14 go through the end zone as unreturnable.


Good signs on offense.
QB Matt Moore has a quarterback rating of 143.2 over the last two games, compared to 121.7 over the first four. Last week, he posted an efficiency rating of 237.8 (14-19, 308 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT)-- the 17th best performance in the NCAA and third-best in the Pac-10 this season. His rating would have been a few points higher without the interception, in which the ball went through the receiver's hands.

The only two better marks in the league this year are Alex Brink's (WSU) 275.4 vs. Idaho and Rudy Carpenter's (ASU) 244.1 vs. Nevada. Moore's overall 130.3 rating is fourth in the Pac-10.

Oregon State is 3-0 this season when RB Yvenson Bernard rushes for 100-plus yards. In the three victories he has averaged 128.3 yards per game, while in the losses its 84.7. Bernard has rushed for 100-plus in nine of the last 14 games.


Constant improvement.
In this week's NCAA statistical rankings, Arizona checks in at No. 28 in rushing defense (108 ypg), easily the best October rating in that category for UA in this Millenium. Three years back UA was 85th at this time. Two years ago, 43rd. Last year, 93rd. Arizona has improved, and gets to test that improvement this week against a team that has
shown the willingness to keep at it. OSU has run the ball 199 times against 183 passes. The Beavs had a huge passing factor against Washington last week -- 15 yards per attempt -- but made it possible by rushing two thirds of the time for 180 yards, vs. a team against which Arizona managed -16 rushing markers.


Third string QB, but lots of experience.
UA's Kris Heavner, who is the third string quarterback behind Willie Tuitama (concussion) and backup Adam Austin (knee), has started 14 Division I football games.  Heavner is the most experienced gun slinger on the roster. In 17 games played, Heavner has passed for 2,349 yards, thrown 12 TD passes and has completed 54 percent of his passes (209-for-384).  Heavner completed all four of his passing attempts for 11 yards against Stanford.


Momentum for the second half.
Both programs are coming off their initial Pac-10 wins of the season. The Beavers snapped a two-game overall losing streak with their 27-17 win last week at Washington while Arizona ended a three game skid with a 20-7 win at Stanford.  Both teams need to win to take a step in salvaging their season.


Even on paper.
Here is a look at how the Wildcats and Beavers match up statistically.


We're number 1!
The Pac-10 ranks No. 1 in the Sagarin Rankings in USA Today, with Oregon State's schedule ranking as the 10th most difficult in the nation. USC has the most difficult, followed by the Cal (2), Stanford (4), Washington State (6), Arizona State (8), Washington (11), Oregon (17), Arizona (21) and UCLA (51).


Additional notes.

  • WR Syndric Steptoe has a streak of 24 games with at least one reception. That streak is second only to USC WR Dwayne Jarrett (30) among active Pac-10 players. Steptoe ranks fourth in the league in receptions with 5.0 per game.

  • PK/P Nick Folk has 19 touchbacks on 24 kickoffs this year. Plus he ranks second in the Pac-10 in punting with a 44.6-yard average and has hit on 8-of-13 field goal attempts

  • Wildcats ranked ninth in Pac-10 in rushing defense last year at 183.7 yards allowed per game. Cats currently rank third in league in that category at 108.0 yards per game, an improvement of 75 yards per game. UA has allowed just six rushing TDs in seven games. Total defense is better by more than 100 yards from last year to this. Cats allowed 408.8 yards per game last year, so far in '06 its 306.0.

  • Arizona has posted 23 points in the final 15 minutes of play.

  • Arizona has lost just three fumbles in seven games.

  • LBs Spencer Larsen (54) and Ronnie Palmer (37) lead the team in tackles.

  • UA has been successful going for it on fourth down five of seven times this year.

  • QB Matt Moore's 80-yard touchdown pass to WR Sammie Stroughter for what proved to be the winning touchdown at Washington is the longest play from scrimmage in a Pac-10 game this year.

  • PK Alexis Serna has 221 career points, a record for a Beaver kicker and third overall on the OSU career scoring list. He has converted 80 consecutive extra points, tying a school record.


Dan Norz is the publisher of BeaverFootball.com.  He can be reached at webmaster@beaverfootball.com

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